Contemplative Prayer - Part 2

We are continuing our study in Spiritual Disciplines today with the second part on contemplative prayer.

Last week I introduced this discipline by encouraging you that this is not an easy one to practice.

The goal of contemplative prayer, in its simplest form, is listening to God.
I used the example of my daughters when they were small girls and how they just liked to sit in my lap.

We are God's little children.
I think THIS is a difficult concept for us as adults to fully grasp. We have spent our entire lives yearning to be rather independent, productive adults.

Yet listen to what Jesus said:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"

2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
- Matt 18:1,2

In Mark's account the text reads that Jesus held the child in his arms.

Now the context of this passage is Jesus urging his disciples not to be arrogant about their position.

But I am focusing on the concept of simply being His children.

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PRAYER
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Look, this is a very different discipline.
It is easy, yet difficult.

All you are being asked to do is listen.

Let me give you some "tips" for applying this discipline:
1. Start small.
Don't think that you have to to sit for hours listening, or even 30 minutes.

Just begin to make it a small part of your regular discipline.

Whenever you engage God in prayer, try making it the last few minutes - when you are done asking the Lord to do this or that, just sit for a bit of time, quietly listening.

This will make it easier because you have already talked to God. You have already made your requests...now your mind has kind of been emptied, because you said everything you intended to say...
so now you can listen better.

Start small.

2. This discipline is easier when you are kind of tired.

I will oftentimes lay in bed at night and pray.
Many times I will end my time just listening...and I will fall asleep.

Remember in my story of my children wanting to sit in my lap when they were little would fall asleep?

What a great picture of resting in God's arms.

It says, "I fully trust in you."
"I know You will take care of me. I'm not going to worry about details."

You know, a little child doesn't say, "Ok daddy [or mommy], I think I will just fall asleep in your lap because I know I can trust you."

It's inherent within them.
It's too simple for us.
I wish as adults we could somehow capture that childlike sense of God and just relax.

Back to the idea of being a bit tired:
When you are tired, your mind is not as apt to be running 90 mph.

I usually begin my day sitting with my first cup of coffee, I am not quite awake and alert yet...

This is a perfect time for me to sit and quietly listen.

3. I suggested using a list.
Start by writing down everything that jumps into your mind when you are trying to be still.

Getting your mind to be still IS THE BIG CHALLENGE.

It is no use fighting the mind...
trying to quiet your mind is VERY difficult.

The better way is to focus your mind - so a list can help to "empty" your thoughts to help you listen.

4. Use biblical text to meditate.

Give your mind something excellent to focus on.

So get a short biblical text and use it to focus your mind and help you enter into being quiet...in your mind.

We used the Lord's Prayer the Sunday I spoke on meditation.

What a great passage to use for this exercise.

5. Practice this discipline on Sunday mornings when we come to times of quiet in our worship experience.

As I have said in another message,
we build this into our worship - we do it on purpose.

I know it can feel awkward, but this is an opportunity for you to sit in relative quiet and absorb God's presence and peace into your soul.

- - - - - - - - - - -
I am not done yet, but are there Any Questions?
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Now I want to share a bit about what kinds of things you might hear when God begins to speak to you.

When God speaks, He is not going to explain the mysteries of the universe...or explain some difficulty in the biblical text.

Mostly, I think...He wants to whisper in your ear how much He loves you...
Very much like a parent does with a little child.

Our tendency is to discount it when we think we hear this kind of thing...
Many of us play the part of God's enforcer...on ourselves.

It's a subtle way of feeling like we can earn our way into God's heart rather than the simple acceptance of His grace.

Now, He might also say something to correct you.
"Stop worrying about your job...trust Me...I AM helping You.

He might remind you that you mistreated somebody...your wife, husband or a brother/sister in the fellowship - and He wants you to go and make it right.

As a parent when you tell your child "Listen to me," what are your expectations?

1. That the child will listen.
2. That they will do what you tell them to do.

Well, if you want God to speak to you...
prepare yourself to obey Him.

This is where it gets a bit challenging and even dangerous.

God speaks to you to draw you closer to Himself.

"The eyes of the Lord roam throughout the earth, looking for those whose hearts completely belong to him..."

He wants men and women who will do what He asks.
If He tells you to do something - you need to obey Him.

To hear God speak is a precious thing.
But if He asks you to do something and you ignore it...

And if you do that too many times...He might stop speaking openly to you.

Oh, He still loves you!
But if you show Him that you will probably NOT do what He asks...

He will not keep speaking openly to you.
NOT to punish you, but actually to shield you.

In order to keep from putting you in a situation where you fail to obey, He will just continue to work silently in your life.

I think this is why many of us do not hear His voice.
Look, you have to be committed to do what He wants.

Many of us are happy to serve God when it means doing things we are good at...or things we enjoy.

I don't know.
I don't want God to just silently work in my life.
I want Him to speak to me...to trust that IF He tells me to do something I will do it.

Funny, many of us think when we struggle, when things are NOT going like we want....
We think God is not hearing us.

Sometimes He is just silent and it is not because we did anything wrong....
He goes radio silent sometimes to get us more desperate for Him.

The scripture says He will hide Himself from us to test us...to see what we might do.

When actually He IS moving.
He is trying to get us somewhere and the way He moves us sometimes is to allow us a bit miserable.

This is partly why we have the great verse in Romans 8:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

What we need to learn is to Trust God no matter how things are going and Give God the same gratitude and reverence either way.

LET'S PRAY

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COMMENTS - QUESTIONS
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Troy Community Church
Christian Fellowship
1300 Henderson Highway
Troy, AL 36079